The turtle's race to survival

May 22, 2013, 05:38 IST | Dhara Vora

May 23 is celebrated as World Turtle Day across the globe. Read on to find out more about the shelled beauties that are found in India

The tortoise (and the turtle) seems to be losing the race of survival with several of their species being threatened the world over. To raise awareness about the same, May 23 is celebrated as World Turtle Day. Tortoises are land dwelling while turtles are sea-dwelling reptiles. There are three major types of turtles spotted in India, including the Olive Ridley, Hawksbill and Leather Back.

Olive Ridley hatchlings being released into the sea at Velas Festival in March 2013. Pic/Shadab Khan

The Olive Ridley are the most commonly sighted species in India and are seen in Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and even Maharashtra. “Apart from rising levels of pollution, turtles are threatened by illegal fishing. It is the modern mechanised fishing trawlers (not traditional) that they get caught in and die if not rescued in time.

The other threat that these creatures face is poaching. Turtles come to the land for laying eggs and these eggs are then stolen. The nesting grounds of turtles face dangers of development,” says Atul Sathe from the Bombay Natural History Society.

But Sathe is quick to add that Maharashtra in particular has seen good examples of conservation. With help from locals of Velas village in Ratnagiri, NGO Sahyadri Nisarg Mitra have successfully managed to create a safe nesting ground for Olive Ridley Turtles. Every year, the village hosts a turtle festival which is very popular among tourists, they create employment for the locals many of whom used to earlier poach the eggs. Sathe informs that it is involving the locals in different nesting areas that will help save the turtles and make a win-win situation for both. 

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